Coronavirus Live Updates: Children Test Positive In Florida As Governor Pushes School Openings

HuffPost reporters around the world are tracking the pandemic and its effects.

Read the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic below. (To see the latest updates, you may need to refresh the page. All times are Eastern. For earlier updates on the pandemic, go here.

Nearly One-Third Of Florida Children Tested For COVID-19 Test Positive — 7/17/2020, 5:50 a.m. ET

Of the 54,022 people under the age of 18 who have been tested for COVID-19 in Florida, 16,797 of them, or roughly 31%, have tested positive, according to data from the state’s Department of Health. This compares with roughly 11% of everyone tested in the state who showed a positive result.

Cases in Florida have been rising at alarming rates the past few weeks, as Gov. Ron DeSantis pushes for schools to completely reopen in the fall. The Republican governor told mayors in south Florida — the state’s hardest-hit area — that reopening schools is low-risk.

— Nina Golgowski

Colorado Issues Statewide Mask Mandate — 7/17/2020, 7:30 a.m. ET

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) issued an executive order Thursday that requires everyone 11 and older to wear a mask in indoor public spaces for at least the next 30 days, the Denver Post reported.

“Look, in Colorado, there’s no shirt, no shoes, no mask, no service,” Polis said. “Very simple.”

Prior to the governor’s order, nearly 40 cities and counties had already issued mask orders. But sheriff’s offices in two conservative counties said their deputies would not be enforcing the order.

COVID-19 cases have been increasing in Colorado for four straight weeks. State epidemiologist Rachel Herlihy said if the current trends continue, the state would run out of ICU beds in September.

— Liza Hearon

Boris Johnson Scraps UK’s ‘Work From Home’ Advice — 7/17/20, 6:20 a.m. ET

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson will scrap the government’s advice to “work from home if you can” starting Aug. 1 — despite apparent misgivings from official scientists.

Johnson dropped the advice that states “people who can work from home should continue to do so,” which was designed to limit the spread of coronavirus. The decision on whether staff should work from home will instead be in the hands of employers.

The prime minister made the move in response to rising concern about the economic impact of people working from home and not spending money in shops, cafes and pubs in city centers.

But the government’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, said Thursday that working from home remained a “perfectly good option” and there was “absolutely no reason” to change the advice. 

Read more here.

— Arj Singh

‘Moment Of Truth’ As European Leaders Gather For Crucial Summit — 7/17/20, 4:30 a.m. ET

The 27 heads of the European Union will meet for first face-to-face talks since lockdowns this weekend as they seek to thrash out an economic recovery plan.

“It is a moment of truth and ambition for Europe,” French President Emmanuel Macron said as he arrived for the meeting in Brussels after weeks of tension over the scale and scope of the rescue fund.

At issue is the EU’s 2021-27 budget, envisaged at slightly above 1 trillion euros ($1.1 trillion), and an attached new recovery fund worth 750 billion euros meant to help rebuild the southern economies affected the most by the crisis.

HuffPost Spain reports (in Spanish) that despite significant efforts to come to an agreement, the positions of the different European leaders still remain distant. Most countries agree on the need to launch a recovery fund after coronavirus, but there are many nuances. 

The stakes are high with EU economies in free fall and immediate relief measures such as short-time work schemes running out this summer, paving the way for what some fear will be an autumn of deep economic malaise and discontent.

That would risk damaging the EU, already struggling with the protracted saga of Brexit and bruised by past crises, from the financial meltdown to migration feuds. That in turn could expose it to more eurosceptic, nationalist and protectionist forces and weaken its standing against China, the United States or Russia.

The summit is scheduled to run for two days, though officials said it could spill into Sunday if an agreement remains elusive.

— Eduardo Loren and James Martin

Virus Data Temporarily Disappears From CDC Website After White House Shifts Control To HHS — 7/16/20, 4:20 p.m. ET

Information on nationwide coronavirus hospitalizations briefly vanished from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s public website this week as the White House implemented a new and controversial method for hospitals to report their data.

Tables on the nationwide availability of hospital beds and ICU beds disappeared for around two days. The absence was first noticed Tuesday, according to a researcher contacted by CNBC. 

Instead of reporting key data points on testing, cases and supplies directly to the CDC, the Trump administration instructed hospitals to report their numbers to the Department of Health and Human Services beginning Wednesday. Critics said this gives the president more control over the official statistics, which he could potentially manipulate for political gain.

The White House contends that the new policy will streamline and speed up the process of gathering up-to-the-moment information on how the coronavirus crisis is impacting the nation. Press secretary Kayleigh McEnany defended it at a Thursday press conference, saying, “This is all about getting more data out there, not less data.”

The hospitalization data reappeared Thursday afternoon. HHS spokesperson Michael Caputo told Vice News that the CDC had been directed to make it public again.

— Sara Boboltz

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